BERWYN – It’s the best night of the year to be at FitzGerald’s Nightclub, and once again, the legendary Berwyn venue is going all out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.
The annual holiday party features traditional Irish step dancing, live Irish music, corned beef and cabbage, and of course, plenty of Irish beer.
This is the 37th St. Patrick’s Day party at FitzGerald’s, and it could be the last year the FitzGerald family hosts the celebration, as the nightclub remains for sale. Owner Bill FitzGerald hosted the first event shortly after he opened the venue in 1981, and he said he looks forward to St. Patrick’s Day every year.
“There’s something about the vibe and the feeling of goodwill that make it a special day," he said. "It’s a guaranteed good time for all."
The family-friendly festivities kick off at 2 p.m. under a heated outdoor tent with the Mayer School of Irish Dancing in Elmhurst, which features about 30 Irish dancers between the ages of 5 and 19, as well as musical performances by school owner Mary Mayer McHugh and Paul McHugh.
“It’s a tradition [to play at FitzGerald’s] and one of the highlights of the year for our kids. They love everything about it,” Mayer McHugh said. “People always look forward to the performances. It’s such an upbeat and uplifting atmosphere and a friendly-family afternoon.”
The music continues at 7 p.m. when the Dooley Brothers, a longtime St. Patrick’s Day tradition at FitzGerald’s, take the tent stage to play traditional Irish songs and rock ‘n’ roll favorites. The band, comprised of three brothers, their sons and other musicians, has been playing the event since 1982.
“FitzGerald’s is an iconic place, and we love playing there,” band member Jim Dooley said. “It’s a huge event, and everyone comes out for it.”
Fitz & the Celts wrap up the live music on the tent stage at 10 p.m. with “high-energy” Irish rock music. In addition to the tent stage, Cannonball, one of FitzGerald’s favorite house bands, will play in the sidebar at 9 p.m. The band will play music from a variety of genres, including rock, blues, country and American folk. Traditional Irish bagpipe group the Shannon Rovers also will make a special appearance during the evening.
Guests can enjoy a traditional Irish menu by Tom Cimms, who will serve hot corned beef sandwiches, Irish stew and “O’Andouille Po’ boy” sandwiches, while washing it down with Guinness, an Irish beer that’s on special for $6 a pint.
Musician Ike Reilly will perform at 9 p.m. in the nightclub, but that show requires a separate $20 ticket. FitzGerald said anyone who purchases a ticket to Reilly’s show can get into the St. Patrick’s Day celebration for free.
“This event is set up almost like a campus with different spaces to hang out in. It’s a great party where people can let loose a little bit,” he said. “FitzGerald’s is a great atmosphere for socializing, and St. Patrick’s Day brings a lot of cheer.”
If you go
WHAT: St. Patrick’s Day celebration
WHEN: 2 p.m. March 17
WHERE: FitzGerald’s Nightclub, 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn
COST: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger
INFO: fitzgeraldsnightclub.com, 708-788-2118